Changing the game: Diving detection system could transform football

A system similar to the goal line technology that will be used in the upcoming FIFA World Cup could in the future be used in football to determine whether a player has dived.

The practice of diving, where a player intentionally falls in the hope that the referee will think they have been fouled and award their team a penalty or free kick, is common in football.

Attempts have been made by FIFA to stamp out the practice, which is also known as simulation, and the number of yellow cards handed out to players for the offence has increased. However, there is little evidence that diving is any less common than it has been previously.

This could change if research by Dr Peter Weyand, associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics at Southern Methodist University, Texas, is successful.


Weyland is researching methods to identify the differences between intentional and unintentional falls during sports games, however the sport he is researching for is basketball, where the practice is known as flopping.

A flop is extremely similar to a dive; a player intentionally falls in the hope of getting an official to call a personal foul against his opponent, and attempts have been made to stop the practice, including recently-introduced fines for guilty players.

The research project, entitled ‘The Physics of Flopping: Blowing the Whistle on a Foul Practice’, has received $100,000 of funding from basketball team Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban.

According to Weyland, the research is in progress but has a long way to go before a workable solution can be developed. “We have developed a custom force and motion data acquisition system to specifically investigate the physics involved in flopping,” explained Weyland in an email to Factor.

“The project and line of research is not far enough along at present to fully identify technological options and feasibility.

“Video is the most obvious candidate, wearable motion sensors such as accelerometers would also be theoretically viable, but whether these approaches will have the sensitivity and robustness required is not yet known.”

Weyland does believe, however, that whatever solution is developed will have the potential to be used in football. “The soccer applications should be very similar in viability to those that are potentially usable in basketball,” he said.


If a solution were to be developed for football, it could have a serious impact not only on the game itself but on how fans watched and enjoyed it. Dives make for excellent post-match discussion points, and offer fans of the losing team an opportunity to claim “we was robbed”. Without them football could lose some of its charm.

Some have also argued that diving plays a positive role. Gary Neville, former Manchester United player-turned Sky Sports pundit famously argued that diving let players flag up fouls that were missed by referees, and so were an essential part of the game.

However, others believe technology can only improve the game. Following the introduction of goal line technology, Arsène Wenger, who has managed English Premier League club Arsenal since 1996, said that he hopes more technology will be introduced to aid referees.

Featured image courtesy of Lario Tus /
Body image 1 courtesy of Natursports /
Body image 2 courtesy of JM Rosenfeld.

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC